Fintech has become synonymous with brilliant, new and engaging financial products and concepts. The term has only, and could only have, existed after the start of the twenty-first century since the internet became not only a ‘nice to have’ but an essential part of daily life. But if the ‘tech’ in fintech is to serve its purpose, it needs to be user friendly to drive engagement and use. As a member of the Tech Nation 'Upscale' programme we believe that our approach can positively transform society and the economy.
One of Cushon’s key drivers, and one of the reasons we were established in the first place, is the need to have a strong online offering. Now that an increasingly small number of customers believe in the need for a physical bank branch, placing greater reliance on digital presence – there is a far greater emphasis on building out a sufficiently compelling tech structure to support it. With retail and financial product branches closing before our eyes, a virtual offering needs to be front and centre of any traditional or challenger financial services provider.
A core part of any fintech’s digital interface is good UX, or user experience, which is a crucial part of getting a product to ‘sing.’ Relating UX to the online banking sector, as a 2020 report for Business Insider put it, “A strong UX enables banks to deliver a simple, intuitive, and frictionless digital banking experience. A superior UX can also help banks improve customer satisfaction and bring in new customers. ” And, put simply, if the digital offering isn’t good enough, customers will try another financial services provider which has put more thought into their end users instead. It’s why, at Cushon, we have invested so much time and effort into making our own digital interfaces engaging and straightforward. We take very seriously the need to make our products easy and rewarding, to use.
2021 has already been one of huge milestones for us, as we’ve been watching the wider digital landscape evolve around us, and we’ve been making sure our own offering keeps up, and better yet, outpaces the competition.
• The Cushon app (available in App and Play Stores) has been updated to integrate the Cushon Master Trust alongside workplace savings products and ISAs. It applies the same interface that customers have been enjoying on savings and ISA investments, applied for the very first time to pensions. So, whatever our customers are saving for, they can navigate through using the app 24/7.
• We’ve also rebuilt our website to demonstrate and explain more fully our Net Zero proposition and allow customers to work out the volume of CO2 emissions their company pension contributes through our Carbon Calculator.
• Our customers now have access to a new-style email alert from CushonMe (our free investment monitoring service) leading to in-app nudges that encourage them to take prompt action on their saving or pension pot(s) such as monitoring targets, reviewing risk and return levels and more.
• We’ve also delivered the ability to nominate pension beneficiaries through the mobile app which our clients have told us is a massive step forward. Often, it’s just one of those things that people don’t end up doing and can create real problems for the trustees down the line.
• Within the next three months customers will be able to vote on the outcomes that they help to fund through their pension, and they can self-select a custom portfolio of funds to invest their ISA or pension pot in, and transfer pensions and ISAs to Cushon, all through the mobile app.
• HR and Payroll haven’t been forgotten either, and administrators will be using our new Administration Portal to self-administer both pension and ISA benefits.
• Finally, we’ve also kicked off a beta test of the Cushon Alexa skill after adding some enhancements to allow customers to check pot balances easily using voice commands and their favourite household smart speaker. We’ve been very busy, but then, part of our start-up mentality is to constantly adapt and evolve to meet customer demand and satisfaction.
To conclude, a note on the Kalifa Review of UK Fintech’s recommendations, one of which was the repositioning the UK as a fintech hub of excellence, and tech innovation. This tells us that there’s real appetite from government to enable good fintech solutions, and to support the businesses that build them. We agree with the level of ambition expressed in the review. We’d go even further and suggest that a good fintech can increase engagement in (in our own case) savings and pensions, helping both employers and investors to create good financial habits, and help a larger proportion of the public become more financially secure.
We’re already looking forward to updating you on our next chapter.